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As We Move Forward: Always Be Sure You’re Right



Many years ago Walt Disney produced a television series, “The Legend of Davey Crockett.” The show was based on the Tennessee-born woodsman who became a hero, a political figure and who ended up fighting and dying at the Battle of the Alamo. One of the lines everyone who watched the show will remember Fess Parker, the actor who portrayed Davey Crockett saying in every episode was, “Be always sure you’re right, and then go ahead.”

On the surface, that may sound like a simple thing. I think in our society, many people tend to respond in anger and haste, rather than to take time to listen, to assess every point of view and every alternative before taking action. I recently spent time in a rapidly growing city where people drive fast, drive aggressively and are either very angry or love showing off the fact that their cars all have horns and that they can activate them at a moment’s notice.


I admit to being a fairly cautious driver who in an unfamiliar situation tends to rely on either the guidance of a human navigator or the voice of my iPhone’s GPS. These are situations where being sure you are right before going ahead can create tension with others who have apparently already determined that they are right and are going ahead

Instantaneous access to more information than we can possibly absorb and process can lead to our belief that we have been deliberate in making sure we are right before taking action. The fact is we cannot sustain the results of our actions unless we make sure we have taken this process seriously.

We have all acted impulsively and have come to regret our actions. How much better would it be if the first step in every decision was to ask the question, “Am I sure I’m doing the right thing?” Doing the right thing does not always insure that things turn out the way you want them to. Davey Crockett and a number of other patriotic Americans decided the battle at the Alamo was the right thing to do, even though it meant the sacrifice of their lives. There are some things that are worth whatever is required of us. I hope each of you has found at least one of those things.

DecisionThe process of always being right before going ahead can, at times, be painful. It may put you in opposition to people close to you. Are you facing a decision where taking the time to be sure you’re right before you go ahead would help you commit to the course of action the decision calls for?

Good for you. Those are the decisions that lead to lasting results. Even if no one makes a TV show of your life, decisions made this way will make a difference. “Be always sure you’re right, and then go ahead.” Let’s remember this as we move forward.

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

As We Move Forward: How’s Your Sense of Adventure?


Remember when you were little and anything could be an adventure? Did you and your friends build forts out of whatever old materials were around? What could you make out of cardboard boxes? We had a woods nearby, trees on a vacant lot and large brush piles on those lots. There was no end to the adventures we had. We were limited only by our imaginations.

What were you sure that you would be when you grew up? How close did you come? (Not even close is perfectly all right!!) Do you remember firsts like first days at school, first time trying out for a team, first day learning to play a musical instrument? Do you remember your first job? Can you remember what an exciting future full of possibilities these experiences opened up for you?

This list of experiences full of adventure can go on and on. How about graduation–when the whole world lay before you! For many of us there was the day we met the love of our life–what a sense of adventure and endless possibilities that presented us! Many equate the birth of children with a tremendous sense of hope and adventure. There are so many more. Take a minute to make a list of some more of the exciting adventure experiences in your life.

ListHow is your sense of adventure today? What are the things you are still excited about accomplishing? Are there places you still haven’t visited? Are there things you have always wanted to try but haven’t yet? Again, take a minute and make a list. Put down anything that excites you when you think about accomplishing it.

Our sense of adventure is what keeps us sharp and focused for the business of living life to its fullest. Never lose the desire to do new things, to experience things you have wanted to do for a long time and have not accomplished yet. Let me tell you a secret. It really doesn’t matter if there are some of things we never get to do. It is the desire and the anticipation that creates the sense of adventure in each of us.

ThoughtAfter working on your lists, make the  decision to do one of the things on your list of adventures. It doesn’t have to be something big and seemingly impossible. After you do this one thing, see how good it makes you feel. Then, with the sense of adventure still fresh in your mind, do something else.

Doing things that keep your sense of adventure fresh and alive is one of the most important things you can do to achieve maximum satisfaction in life. Treasure and nurture your sense of adventure. It can be one of your most precious gifts.

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

As We Move Forward: Assessing Your Strengths


If you were asked, ”What are your strengths,” what would your response be? Many of us would have an easier time listing our weaknesses. Try it. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. Label one side “My Strengths” and the other “My Weaknesses.” Spend a few minutes listing the things that come to mind under each category. I hope you are totally honest. No one needs to ever see this list but you. I have done this exercise a number of times in my life. I find, each time, that I can generate a long list of weaknesses. My list of strengths is always much shorter and more tenuous than definite. In fact, I find myself crossing out or dismissing a number of things from that list as things I wish were true about myself rather than things I actually accept as strengths. This may or may or may not be true for you. It is for many people I have asked to do this exercise over the years.

Why is this? What makes it easier to list things we see in ourselves as weaknesses than strengths? While the goal of this exercise is not to become egomaniacs, totally absorbed in ourselves, it can be the starting point for honestly looking at our strengths as the potential with which we can begin to make some of the things that can lead us to happiness and fulfillment in life.

FriendsOne good place to begin this search is to think of the people in your life who are or who have been supportive and encouraging to you. Hopefully you have or have had many such people in your life. Even if the number of people who have encouraged you is small, add the things they have said about you to your list of strengths.

Your list of strengths should also include the things you enjoy doing, and the things you do well. Nothing is too small or insignificant to be included on that list. Include things you would really like to do if you only had the knowledge or experience to do them. These are strengths because the desire to do them is a strong incentive to achieve the desired outcome from the activity.

You may include things you were forced to learn and do. Ask yourself if any of these things gave you the tools to develop a skill that brings you satisfaction. I know people who will tell you they are surprised that developing skill in something they did not at first think interested them led to something meaningful and rewarding in their lives. A common example of this is someone who was forced to endure seemingly endless of music lessons and practice only to discover how this skill later led to very meaningful experiences as they shared their musical talents with people in various settings.

New BeginningsAsk people in your life now what they think are your strengths. You may be surprised that something you have taken for granted about yourself is seen as a strength by someone else. Ultimately, the information you gather about your strengths can be your springboard to new and exciting things you have yet to discover in your life. As we move forward, enjoy the journey of identifying, assessing and developing your strengths. You do have many.

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

As We Move Forward: Dealing with Stress


How do you handle stress? The answer says a lot about how you do in handling life. Sometimes it seems as if life is merely getting from one stress filled event to another. Perhaps that is because stress can be found in some of life’s highest moments as well as its lowest. Few if any of us can go through life without stress. In fact, it would not be a good thing if we were able to pull that off.

There is a story about a child who happened on a bird that was struggling to break out of its shell. Moved with compassion, the child carefully broke away the remaining pieces of the shell so the bird could be free of its seeming confinement. What the child would never know is that the misguided action condemned the bird to never be able to fly. It seems that the struggle to break out of its shell allows a bird to develop the skill of flying.

Think about what you have learned from some of the struggles in your life. I will be the first to admit I have learned more from the things in my life that did not go well than those that did. I have learned the most from experiences I would not willingly choose to repeat.

The same thing holds true for relationships. I have learned some very valuable lessons from interaction with people I find it difficult to relate to. These are some of the examples if sources of stress in our lives. There are others.

DivideOne of the challenges of dealing with stress is that often the things that cause stress in our lives are, or at least seem, to be out of our control. Feelings of helplessness and hopeless add to our sense of frustration in dealing with the stress in our lives in ways that make sense.

One really useful strategy in dealing with stress is separating the things we can do something about from those we can’t. Often the satisfaction of resolving something we can control gives us confidence and the sense of satisfaction to accept things that seem beyond our control. The important thing is to not let stress become so overwhelming that we lose sight of the things in our lives over which we have some control and in which we can make a difference.

One of the things I tell myself often is that life is a marathon, not a sprint. The character traits we develop over time give us the knowledge, maturity and judgment to make and carry out the decisions that will allow us to deal effectively with stress over the long run.

What are the biggest sources of stress in your life right now? Which ones do you just have to accept–for now because they are seemingly beyond your control? What can you do in your life to make that easier? Are there small areas of stress even within the larger areas of stress where you can make a difference? Can you develop a positive attitude to help make an impossible situation bearable–at least until you can find a way to make things better.

GrowthDo you have a long range plan to change something in your life that causes you major stress? If not, what would that plan look like? What are you learning from those situations that bring stress into your life? How can you grow as a person through these situations?

Stress is a part of each of our lives. What can you do to make your stress a valuable part of learning and growth? You might be surprised what you can accomplish.

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

As We Move Forward: What Are Your Dreams?

DreamsEach of us has dreams. Dreams may be thought of as,”a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep.” It is entirely up to us whether we experience our dreams only in this way or whether we decide to make our dreams the basis for action. According to one of the best known dreamers of modern times, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” – Walt Disney

My first trip to Disneyland took place shortly after Walt Disney’s death. As we rode the train, the recorded message encouraged us to look at the engine. The voice told us that sometimes Walt comes down and drives the train. Even knowing he was gone, I looked. Over my adult life, I have enjoyed some of the fruit of Walt Disney’s dreams. They are a testament to what can happen when we find the courage to act on our dreams.

HappinessI have been blessed in my life to see dreams fulfilled–mine and those of others. In fact, one of my dreams is helping people discover their dreams and develop a strategy for realizing them. Helping someone realize a dream is not the same as doing it for them. Sadly, that seldom if ever works. You also cannot compel someone to act on their dreams. You can only encourage them and show them how.

What are your dreams? I sometimes ask a person, “If time and money were not a factor, what would you be doing?” If you can envision your response to that question, you are both dreaming and on the road to seeing your dreams become reality. I believe the best dreams benefit not only you but others. They might benefit the people you love, and they might even be big enough to benefit people beyond your circle of influence.

Dreams require work, sacrifice and sometimes suffering to accomplish. Sometimes we have to wait for our dreams to become reality. Sometimes we have to modify our dreams. I am saddened when I meet someone who has given up on their dreams. What about you?

GreatnessWhat are the secret things you desire to see happen that would make you and others happier? What would you like people to remember you for? What would you like to do that would make the world a better place?

As we move forward, think of ways we can help you turn your dreams into realities. That is what our being in relationship is all about. Have the courage to pursue your dreams.

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

As We Move Forward: Facing Our Fears

Fear What do you fear? There are many ways to describe fear. Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason. Traumas or bad experiences can trigger a fear response within us that is hard to quell. Yet exposing ourselves to our personal demons is the best way to move past them.

Fear stops us in mid-action. Uncertainty about the possible outcome makes us unable to make decisions about how to proceed. Fear can strike anywhere, without warning. Since no two people have the exact same life experiences, everyone’s list of fears and responses to fear may be different.

Fear really is like other obstacles we encounter in life. The only way to deal with it begins with acknowledging and confronting it. Think of someone you know who has never gotten past something that happened in their life. Whatever they are doing, it is obvious what an invisible barrier their fear represents.

Terrorism depends on this response to fear. Any time our response to fear is indecision and immobility, the perpetrators of the fear win. We all know that. Unfortunately, that kind of fear is all too common in our world. Even if we cannot control some of the things that trigger fear, we can control our response to the fear.

StopFear can affect every area of our lives. Are you experiencing dissatisfaction in any area of your life? Are their uncertainties or even changes going on in your life environment that make you fearful about what is coming next? Do you sometimes feel out of control? That can be an indicator of fear. The good news is that the starting point for dealing with all of these is the same.

Recognize that something is going on. Examine the feelings you are having. Can you identify where these feelings might be rooted in something in your past? How much of the fears are based in reality?

SkyWhat can you do to change the circumstances that bring on the fear? Can anyone help you? Do you want the outcomes that changing will make enough to do what it will take to achieve them?

The answers to these questions might not always be yes, and that is OK. A well known prayer, attributed to Francis of Assisi, is known as the serenity prayer. “O God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” As we move forward, facing our fears can lead to positive outcomes. What fear will you face first? This can be the start of an exciting adventure. Let’s keep moving forward together.

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

As We Move Forward: Your Gifts

GiftsA gift is something we did not earn. It just comes to us. It is our choice to accept or ignore our gifts and to use them any way we choose. The greatest thing about our gifts are when we share them with others, everyone’s life is richer. Each of us has gifts whether we recognize them or not. Part of adopting a person centered approach to your life is to spend some intentional effort discovering your gifts.

We can all point to celebrities like athletes or musician whose gifts have been recognized and developed. Yes, these people are gifted, but so are you. What do you like to do? What have you always been “good at”? This is a way to begin discovering your gifts.

It is indeed a fortunate person who discovers enough of their gifts early in their lives and is able to incorporate these gifts into one or more areas of their life. A person whose gifts include attention to detail may be happiest with life experiences with a lot of structure. Vocational choices could come from fields like science and medicine, information technology, accounting or statistics, among a few of the many possibilities.

LeaderIf your gifts are more in the realm of listening, empathy, encouraging and nurturing, you may fine maximum satisfactions in a profession where close personal relationships with people provide your best working environment. Education and the human services field have many possibilities for satisfying careers.

Everyone recognizes that leadership is a gift, but so is being a valuable team member. The ultimate goal of discovering your gifts is to determine how closely they line up with how you are living your life, investing your talents and energy. You are the happiest you can be when you are living out the fullest expression of your gifts that you possibly can.

ThinkThis may sound nice and simple. It is anything but. I have talked with many people who do not seem to be living out their gifts. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes the choices we have made mean we cannot live out our gifts–for now . Whenever I try to help some discover their gifts, I ask a question, such as, ”If time and money weren’t an issue, what would you be doing right now?”

Dreaming like this can help us discover, or re-discover our gifts. That is the first step. Once we know what our gifts are, we can decide what, if anything, we wish we were doing to live more in our gifts.

As we move forward, let’s do it with an eye to how we are moving in and utilizing our gifts in every area of our lives. Oh, yes, and it is never too late to discover your gifts. There are always choices we can make based on this knowledge. Remember, the world is waiting for your gifts. What are you waiting for?

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

As We Move Forward: Being Person Centered

PeopleRecently a term has re-emerged in the human services field. The term is “person centered”, and it is usually followed by a word like thinking or planning. Person centered is lifted up as the standard by which things involving people’s live should be measured. The term, as it is presently employed, is too vast for one brief article like this. I would like to try to establish a basis from which to consider person centered thinking.

First, I contend that person centered thinking has not been the norm in much of human history. History teaches that many civilizations have been based on compelling people to fit into rigid molds. Lives were often dictated solely by the circumstances of birth. While there have been occurrences of person centered thinking throughout history, I would like us to briefly consider the one we are most familiar with.

HappinessThe opening words of the document that forms the framework for the United States talks about certain truths that we hold as self-evident. These truths start from the belief in the equality of all persons and the fact that each of us has undeniable–I like the term inalienable–rights, which include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Everything that follows in that amazing document is designed to help each one of us reach toward our full potential. I believe that is the essence of being person centered.

Obviously, this document does not mean to imply that there will not be obstacles to overcome. It does not even mean to guarantee that everyone will be successful–hence the phrase “the pursuit of happiness.” To be truly person centered involves the risk that accompanies any true accomplishment.

To be person centered, then, implies that it is the right of each of us to dream, to strive, to fail, and to strive again. The equality of all people does not mean equality of abilities, physical, intellectual or social. It does not guarantee equality of opportunity to everyone. It does not guarantee equality or even fairness in outcomes.

OriginalPerson centered means that the best for each person must be at the core of everything the individual does or is done on their behalf. This is a noble goal, and it is truly worthy of our best efforts.

Consider how being person centered operates in your life and the lives of those you come in contact with. How has your life been improved through a person centered approach? How could person centered thinking make things better.

How comfortable are you with making the person centered approach the focal point of all your relationships? Think about this as we move forward.

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

As We Move Forward: Consequences

Broken Plate There are consequences to everything. That might sound like an obvious oversimplification, but it is amazing how many people live as if this was not the case. There are people who live as if they believe they can do whatever they wish, whenever they wish without ever having to face the results of those actions. It is ironic that the more freedom of choice and the more opportunities we have, the more difficulty we seem to have in seeing the direct relationship between our actions and their consequences.

History is the continuing story of actions and their consequences. We view the rise and fall of previous civilizations from the lofty perspective of hindsight, from which it is possible to draw conclusions about why certain actions led to certain outcomes, or consequences. The hope is that we learn enough from the examples and lessons of history to make choices in the future that result in better consequences.

Out of dateThe past several generations have seen many actions and their consequences shape the way we live our lives. I’d like to mention a few of them. The ability to raise more food and to keep that food longer was intended to provide more people the opportunity to have whatever foods they wanted almost whenever they wanted it. There have been some wonderful consequences to these actions. Unfortunately, there have also been some consequences with negative effects on health that have resulted from some of these actions.

Trying to eat healthy seems to have become a difficult, if not impossible, task given the complexities of our food production and distribution system. We may enjoy both the varieties and abundance of a wide selection of food. Have we become wise in evaluating our actions regarding food? Thus ensuring that the consequences of our choices and actions regarding food really make us better off.

Over the past several generations we have experienced freedom in areas such as mobility, education and employment that have given us opportunities previously only available to a very few. While the consequences for some have been growth, satisfaction and happiness, others report frustration and loneliness as consequences of the same opportunities.

One more area to examine would be technology. We live in an amazing world with electronic devices more powerful than room-sized computers of fifty years ago. We can talk effortlessly with someone around the world. Is it really a desirable consequence for four or five people in a restaurant to each be isolated from one another on their own electronic device?

Consequences Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Storm Clouds and Sky.As we move forward, I don’t want any of us to regret or fear the actions and opportunities that have transformed this into the most exciting time anyone has ever known. I think the answer lies in recognizing that there are consequences to everything. I am unsettled by people I hear telling us we can have whatever we want with no consequences to us. I believe we must each develop a healthy understanding of our actions and their probable consequences.

We cannot abdicate either our actions or their consequences and remain satisfied, happy, fulfilled. When things at times seem overwhelming, we need to break things down into simple actions and their consequences. We cannot control every action that affects us, but we can control some of them. If we work with others who are like-minded, we can initiate a lot of actions that will have consequences we will be happy living with. I am convinced this is the best way to live as we move forward.

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis. Click here to read the other As We Move Forward entries.

As We Move Forward: Seasons

Seasons Road

As we move forward, it is useful to have a way to view our progress. One concept I have found useful in periodically looking at my journey through life is the concept of seasons. A season is a period of time, often defined by particular types of weather. We think of seasons as different from the one before and the one after, but that is not always the case. I once heard a tour guide on a Caribbean island talk about their four seasons: this summer, last summer, next summer and the one after that.

Sometimes we talk about seasons as periods in our lives. We might speak about childhood, youth, young adulthood and old age. Let’s look for a few minutes at the possible value of looking at our lives in terms of seasons. What are some of the things we can learn from viewing our passage in life in terms of seasons.

Seasons TreePeople come into our lives in a particular season, and they often move on in another season. In our mobile society, it is rare to have relationships that last all of our lives. Recognizing this, we can learn to value relationships while we have them, Time spent in relationships with people we like, respect and admire always yields rewards that last for many years. It is all too common to hear someone say I wish I had spent more time with…when I had the opportunity. Thinking of life in terms of seasons tends to remind us to take full advantage of those opportunities we have when we have them

One example of this was our decision to travel when our older children were small, Although we did not have a lot of money, I had four weeks vacation a year. We travelled the country, and we camped. For many years we camped in tents. Later we camped in a pop up trailer. It is gratifying to hear our older children speak of all the places we visited and all the things we did in that season of our lives.

There are other ways to look at our lives in terms of seasons. Not all seasons are equally pleasant. Here, too, it is helpful to remember that this is a season, and it will pass. What happens in a season can produce lasting changes in us. We are told that in our society several career changes are the norm for most of us. I am in my second career. Each has lasted more than twenty years. Each of these seasons has produced lasting changes in the course of my life.

Seasons FieldWhat are some of the seasons you are aware of in your life? What can you say about the season you are in right now? Would you change anything about this season if you could? Are there any changes you believe you can make? What would you keep about this season if you could? Do you think you can keep any of these things?

What do you want your next season to look like? Are you doing things to make sure that happens? One thing looking at our lives in terms of seasons can do is help us become aware of the present—the moment we are living in.

As we move forward, it is always good to have a clear picture of where we are right now. I hope you are enjoying your present season and experiencing all it has to offer you.

David C. Bloom,
CEO of IHS Services, Inc.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.